On March 19, a 3D neo-peplum was released on our screens attacking Greek mythology through the legend of Hercules. After at the start of the year already two mediocre productions of the same kind - Pompeii and 300: the birth of an empire -, The legend of Hercules manages the feat of surpassing them to sign certainly one of the worst films of the year or one of his greatest chicks!
Son of Zeus and Queen Alcmene, Hercules deeply loves Princess Hebe. However, his “adoptive father” the tyrannical Amphitryon, intending the hand of the young lady to the brother of Hercules, Iphicles, decides to get rid of the Greek hero. Left for dead and sold as a slave, Hercules will have to take his fate in hand to overthrow Amphitryon to find his beloved.
A free adaptation of the legend
The legend of Hercules unfortunately only has the name. Or at least, should the film have been renamed to: The New Legend of Hercules. Because do not expect to find elements of the myth apart from a few vague winks that are badly inserted in the script. The explanation is simple, it is actually a very fanciful prequel to how Hercules became a demigod, so long before the epics we know him as the Twelve Labors. The idea is not bad, moreover, to make Hercules a hero who does not know his divine origin, who realizes and doubts it. But why then make him fight before the time the famous lion of Nemea - closer to the plush than to a monster in the film -? This example is in the image of the film: the Herculean myth only serves to produce a bad exploitation film surfing the visual and scriptwriting wave of Hollywood epics of recent years, 300 and Gladiator in mind.
Gladiator you say? But what is the relationship between the Roman General Maximus and the Greek Heracles? Quite simply, they are just two men who have become gladiators against their will, and only the quest for success in the arena will allow them to emancipate themselves and acquire the strength necessary to overthrow the power in place. Hercules is therefore a gladiator in ancient Greece where the Roman circus games obviously did not exist. Well, shouldn't it be called rather by its Hellenistic name Heracles and not by its Roman name of Hercules? And shouldn't it be given a personality either, the Greek hero being in mythology a complex, ambivalent and violent character, not this young bodybuilder with the silly air living only for his love affair with his princess. Director Renny Harlin will stop at nothing going so far as to revisit the birth of Hercules with the blessing of Hera well known for his kindness to the offspring from Zeus' infidelity - in mythology she sent snakes to kill Hercules so baby -. As you will have understood, we are in the presence of a scenario without any imagination and without any reflection and of course without any consideration either for mythology or for ancient history. But after all, we're not here to see a Greek mythology class but an action movie, whatever the story of Hercules as long as it throws right? Except that there too, it stuck severely.
A calamitous achievement
In his career, Renny Harlin distinguished himself in the field of action films. But that time seems well and truly over and forgotten for many years. He is no more than a director of the third zone, accustomed to Direct-DVD releases or cinematographic massacres-flops. And as, who look alike assembles, he surrounds himself with a dreadful cast worthy of a Z series, giving the lead role to a escaped Twilight, Kellan Lutz, completely devoid of charisma and stereotypical as possible. The psychological side not being the director's cup of tea - the dialogues are extremely ridiculous - one could only hope that the action sequences were successful. But no, special effects often cheap turning to kitsch, a 3D limit and a pumping on 300 with the excessive use of slow-accelerated without taking again the colorful visual of Zack Snyder, gratify the spectators with a total no show ! There are then only two loopholes: absolute boredom or the fit of laughing like one of the scenes, where Hercules receives a helping hand from Papounet Zeus with a sword throwing lightning to decimate an army, Percy Jackson just have to beware.
Bad series B or grandiose nanar?
A mythological treatment based on the massacre, old-fashioned actors swollen with hormones, a poorer scenario than the Disney version and a vain and flashy realization. It's up to you to see whether this film should be considered a very bad B series or the Nanar of the Year. Finally, let's not judge too quickly, let's wait to know which path will take on our screens the next film on Hercules next August. Because, another episode of the life of the demigod is currently in the reels, signed this time by Brett Ratner to whom we owe among other things the series of Rush Hour or X-Men the final confrontation and with as a flagship actor Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. If we can legitimately have many fears about the end result, we will nevertheless reassure ourselves by saying that it is hardly possible to do worse. Wait & See!
The legend of Hercules, by Renny Harlin, 2014. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.